Does the fate of the United States economy rely principally on how much Americans buy during the Christmas season? That’s what many media commentators might lead us to believe. December retail sales might be an indicator of the health of the nation’s economy, but they’re not......
It may not have been as momentous as the throngs pulverizing the Berlin Wall with sledgehammers 25 years ago, but Wednesday’s left-field announcement the United States would restore diplomatic relations with Cuba was welcome and long, long overdue.
It was abundantly clear for decades the economic embargo that was imposed on Cuba during the Eisenhower administration, and the simultaneous severing of diplomatic ties, was not succeeding in its stated purpose, which was the overthrow of the communist regime led by Fidel Castro, and the restoration of democracy to the island. Ten U.S. presidents came to office since the policy was put in place; Barack Obama had yet to be born at its inception. Yet the Castro government, now led by brother Raul, hung on doggedly. Many observers believed the embargo and the United States’ official hostility was having exactly the opposite effect – giving the Castros a rallying point and a scapegoat for Cuba’s crumbling economy. After 50-odd years passed without success, what were the chances that somehow, maybe at the 60-year or 70-year mark, the policy would bear fruit?
That seems about as crazy as one of the Castros suggesting prosperity for Cuba is lurking just around the corner.
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky and probable 2016 presidential contender, got it exactly right when he said, “If the goal is regime change, it sure doesn’t seem to be working and probably it punishes the people more than the regime, because the regime can blame the embargo for hardship.”
Quietly in the works for several months, the United States will open an embassy in Havana, and ease restrictions on banking and travel. One hopes Cuban-Americans living in Miami will no longer have to endure the ridiculous, time-wasting ordeal of having to fly to Toronto in order to get to Havana, which is only 90 miles from their doorsteps. In return, Cuba will allow increased Internet access, and release 53 political prisoners. Cuba will also be removed from the list of countries the United States says sponsors terrorism. It will take an act of Congress to end the economic embargo, and that may not happen immediately, since many incumbent and incoming lawmakers are unsympathetic to anything Obama proposes. But the embargo almost certainly will be gone eventually.
There will be some additional benefits to America with the change in our approach to Cuba: travelers from our country will be able to import up to $100 worth of tobacco products from Cuba, meaning the cigars that are so prized by aficionados will presumably be more widely available in the lower 48; and Major League Baseball might be able to lure some of Cuba’s best talent to teams in this country.
Normalizing our relationship with Cuba simply makes sense. Yes, Cuba’s government is authoritarian, but so is the government of China, with whom we have had diplomatic ties since President Richard Nixon traveled there in 1972. The same goes for Vietnam. We never broke ties with the Soviet Union, even when the Cold War was at its subfreezing depths.
Engagement by the United States could well bring Cuba closer to freedom than never-ending, pointless antagonism.
Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States and abroad as compiled by the Associated Press:
Experts seemed divided about whether the self-proclaimed Islamic “sheikh” who was killed Monday in a standoff with police in Sydney, Australia, was a nutcase or a terrorist who was acting alone.
It doesn’t matter. Both are essentially the same thing.
Individuals with a history of violent acts and links to terrorism must be monitored. While that’s tough to do within the confines of existing laws, local and national authorities must not forget that America is in the cross hairs. It takes just one lunatic to cause havoc.
Man Haron Monis, 50, who was identified by Australian media as the gunman behind a tense 16-hour standoff inside a Sydney coffee shop, fits that bill. Why someone with his disturbed and violent background was still walking the streets is a question Australian authorities haven’t answered.
Sadly, two innocent people were killed during the rescue operation. Their deaths are tragic reminders of what’s at stake in the battle against terror.
Last week, Congress rushed to pass the awkwardly named “cromnibus.” It was more than just a mashup of a continuing resolution (the “cr,” that is) and omnibus spending bill. Lawmakers – primarily Republicans – inserted inappropriate pet causes, pork and pandering to special interests.
Because lawmakers again waited until the eve of a government shutdown to act, they had no time or inclination to write a thoughtful budget that reflected overarching policy goals. The cromnibus neither helps the middle class nor reduces the deficit. Instead, it allows the country to hobble along for another year.
Not content to do no good, the GOP-controlled House insisted on doing harm by inserting policy and spending priorities where they don’t belong. Many Democrats served as their enablers, supporting the cromnibus with the thin rationale that it could have been worse.
On the spending front, millions of dollars will buy fighter jets that the Pentagon had not even asked for. Someone’s district will score big.
There were horrors aplenty surrounding the siege of a cafe in Sydney, Australia, Sunday and Monday that culminated in the deaths of two hostages and the gunman, a 50-year-old emigre from Iran who professed sympathies for Muslim extremists and had a lengthy rap sheet....
When many daily newspapers either ignored them or treated them with condescension, African-Americans launched a host of newspapers around the country in the 20th century that spoke directly to their concerns, advocated forcefully against Jim Crow laws and for their full rights as citizens....
Nemacolin was once considered a model community.
The English monarch can no longer order armies into battle. That task is now left to the elected government of Britain. In fact, there’s little that the English royal family does that isn’t entirely ceremonial. They’re less symbols of majesty than continuity. If the British......